11 January 2016

Turn and Face the Strange

If anyone ever asks me what is the best gig I've ever been to, I reply instantly and without hesitation, "David Bowie, Sound+Vision tour, The Point Depot, Dublin, 1990".

I was seventeen, I'd been to a good few big concerts at that stage, REM, The Cure and others, and many, many smaller ones in the Baggot Inn, McGonagles, The National Stadium, Charlie's on Aungier Stand and so many more long-vanished venues whose names escape me now, but Bowie was something else.

The Point was a big rectangular warehouse then, with a stage at the river end and really bad acoustics. The stage was covered in a floor-to-ceiling white screen against which a back-projection played a black-and-white video of The Thin White Duke. It raised slightly and the man himself walked forward, dwarfed by his own giant visage behind him, holding a guitar, singing. He had a four-piece band behind the screen but for that night it really was just him on the stage, both small in person and writ large on the screen, singing classic after classic before he retired them all at the end of the tour.

That night set the bar by which all other musical experiences in my life have been measured. I've enjoyed other gigs more, other nights have meant more to me since, but that night remains in a league all of its own.

In 1990, Bowie was 43.

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